“It’s difficult to put these self-reflective answers in writing much less open yourself up to criticism from a friend.
So rather than ask a close friend who may have hesitated being candid with feedback, I asked a colleague who I knew would have good judgment, but wasn’t afraid to hurt my feelings,” says Jay.
“I discussed how my job involves national security.
I was working for a government contractor to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
When Jay wrote his first draft, he picked three different examples.
But after reviewing it, he realized it was too scattered and he needed to narrow it down to one phase in my career. “I was young and needed to establish credibility with people who had been in the Navy longer than I had been alive.
Following his outline, Jay began by describing his field.
“The area of nuclear engineering is different than some more traditional fields so I wanted to provide a baseline of understanding about what I do for a living.” He also wanted to clarify why he wasn’t seeking a Ph D, which may seem like the next natural step for people in his field.
Admissions officers at highly selective business schools look for justifications to reject candidates, and when they cannot find those justifications in work experience, undergraduate grades, or admissions test scores, they search for them in application essays.
“An essay that reveals any weakness in your candidacy could quickly put you in the reject pile,” according to Poets & Quants editor John A. Best practices in application essay writing indeed exist, although some of them are not obvious and a few may seem counterintuitive.